The very cold and snowy weather in Romania as we were leaving, prompted us to head from Bucharest towards coastal Bulgaria via Constanta. Bad weather and road conditions meant we drove further South that day than intended.
At the border with Bulgaria, once we had realised that we did not need to line up behind a huge queue of lorries, we crossed with the minimum of fuss. However it was now dark as night had fallen really quickly. The road the sat nav chose for us to enter Bulgaria very late in the dark was unbelievable.
Just beyond the border we found ourselves driving through small villages. The lorries melted away. Between villages, there were few if any road markings, no lighting and huge rain filled ruts spread across the whole road, to the extent that it was difficult to see where the roads started and the verges began. Roundabouts appeared like complicated obstacles and were hard to see. Without the sat nav, the shape and exits were impossible to discern. At one point with both of us staring intently into the gloom, we opted to drive off a roundabout, the wrong way up what turned out to be a bit of unexpected dual carriageway! Luckily there was a gap for us to trundle across before a head-on collision!
We eventually skirted Varna and found a half way decent motorway towards Sophia and pulled over to sleep in a less than delightful service station with a handful of lorries.
On 20 March, despite being further south, on waking in the Landruiser we found that the snow had caught up with us again and the car was covered in snow. We were surrounded by the white stuff on the motorway. We set off quite quickly along snowy slushy roads to try and find some sunshine further South. The snow was unabated. The clever sat nav had found Bulgarian Route 7 to Turkey. (Jim thought it was his clever idea).
However, it was closed because of deepening snow, so we were diverted to the lower Route 73 which although snowy, was being cleared by snow ploughs. The 4 wheel drive was turned on to help traction.
There were surprisingly few accidents on the route as we passed, and generally the traffic kept moving and there were snow ploughs everywhere. We drove slowly through the passes of the white capped mountains and came down to the border with Turkey. Leaving the EU, this was a serious border and to boot we were obliged to pay 87 euros for Turkish car insurance as our European Insurance did not cover Turkey.
Amazingly on arrival in Turkey, the weather changed immediately and was warm and we had a moment of sunshine. We stopped to acclimatise in Edirne. It was, for the first time, surprisingly warm but briefly followed by torrential rain rather than snow. We visited Edirne with its magnificent mosque dating from 1569.
We then drove on towards Istanbul and spent another night in a Turkish service station before arriving in Istanbul. It was great to camp for the night without snow and sub zero temperatures, indeed 9 degrees centigrade and a sunset. We felt hopeful and looking forward to sunshine and Istanbul.